Fall-Out from a Letter Sent to US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Regarding Stopping U.S. Government’s Foreign Aid to Liberia Unless Salaries of Liberian Lawmakers and Officials are Reduced from US$12,000 Per Month.
By Jones Nhinson Williams
Yesterday, I, Jones Nhinson Williams, wrote US Senate Majority Leader McConnell and other top Congressional leaders to halt all foreign assistance to Liberia and perhaps put a visa freeze on all Liberian lawmakers and some officials unless they agree to reduce their salaries and use the money for development purposes, such as ensuring we have good roads, better healthcare facilities and schools for Liberian kids.
Many Liberians applauded the idea and in fact, every single US congressional staffer I spoke to yesterday thought it was an excellent move. Equally, only two Liberians thought it was a bad move and the two persons were: one individual who works for a Liberian lawmaker and other individual known as Mr. S. Kokpar B. Wohwoh, a House of Representatives’ aspirant for Grand Bassa County… Mr. Wohwoh registered his disagreement in writing as seen below verbatim:
- Kokpar B. Wohwoh’s Disagreement
This situation for the most part is not spicific to Liberia as a nation. I am of the conviction that your proposal should be the last nail on the coffin, if you truly love Liberians and Liberia. To say that funds sent to Liberia has made no tangible impact is imaginary and counterproductive.
Furthermore your recommendation calling on the “US goverment agencies responsible for international assistance to immidiately halt all aid to Liberia unless the exorbiting salaries and other benefits are drastically reduced in line with the financial capacity and cost of living of the country” is also counterproductive and is most likely to affect the majority of the people whom you love.
So, if we are causing our own problem, why are you in defence of the causative agents (Liberians) in particular?
Now my next question, do you have a solution to Liberia’s problem?
My brother, siting in your comfort zone in the US and recommending the discontinuation of assistance to Liberia is wickness and inhumane. This suggests that you are not informed considering where Liberia came from since the war and up to present.
Besides, when last where you in Liberia, and what did you do?
My (Jones Nhinson Williams) Response to Mr. S. Kokpar B. Wohwoh’s Disagreement
Brother Wohwoh, thank you for your concerns and the passionate argument you made herein about my letter to the US Senate Majority Leader, a man who I personally lobbied during the Ebola crisis in Liberia for congressional support to the US aid in mitigating the epidemic.
Your differing opinion is good.
That is the kind of Liberia I want and I think that’s what every civilized person will want; a nation where we can disagree on issues amicably.
However, there are few things I need to indicate here.
- I am not going to elevate your personal status here by engaging in a personal argument with you. You have to find a way to do that. So I wouldn’t argue with you as a trend.
- There is equally something in philosophy called “Situation Ethics.” And people who study philosophy are called philosophers. In short, they love wisdom and try to make sense of reasoning through inquiries and investigation as to why certain things are what they are, and what are the options for ramifications or changes. That said, I studied systematic philosophy and the rest is yours to deduce. Now, back to educating you more.
In “situation ethics” (which I briefly taught in AME Zion Community College in Liberia in the mid-1990s and in other higher institutions after completion of my philosophical studies), tough choices are a requisite to obtain good.
Also, according to “situation ethics,” there is a reason why certain tough actions are necessary to obtain a greater good.
For example, doctors who amputate arms and legs and the breasts of cancer patients are not evil. They do so to save the life of the patient because when the cancer spreads the patient will die.
Liberia is currently a patient that has a cancer of bad governance, corruption, greed, nepotism, poverty, arrogance, and of course, ignorance.
Based on your prevailing mentality that we leave the status quo as is, when every possible opportunity available has been tried to make the lawmakers and the leadership see reason to reduce their salaries failed, when in fact the more Liberians complain the more some lawmakers like Jewel Howard Taylor defends why they (lawmakers) need to be paid more in a country with no durable electricity, healthcare facilities, good roads and better educational system, is dangerous.
So, call it evil or anything you want, but in earnest our option to urge the US to act in ensuring that Liberian lawmakers and officials reduce their salaries or make the country forfeit US aid is a morally reflective decision which is applauded not just by decent Liberians, but by decent people around the world with interest in Liberia.
Every single Congressional staffer on Capitol Hill I spoke to about this strategic move applauded the decision and you are not more intelligent nor kind-hearted than these people in anyway.
Imagine you were a poor Liberian working hard every day as a sweeper in a cook shop in Slipway, Monrovia, Liberia and your government collects tax money from your pay check every two weeks to send millions of dollars in foreign aid to the ‘Republic of Careless Leaders,’ what will you think and do when you learn that the ‘careless leaders’ in that country where your tax money goes live in luxury and make more money than your own lawmakers and officials in your state or county in Liberia? Will you be happy and sing kumbaya?
This is what many poor U.S. citizens go through every day. Many of these people are Group Homes’ workers like yourself when you lived in the US before you went back to Liberia in an attempt to run for elected position in Grand Bassa County.
When you left your job and family to go to Liberia the only job you set your eyes on was to run for the position of representative for Grand Bassa County. Do you know why? Like you, many educated and non-educated Liberian leaving the US and other countries around the world all want to be lawmakers because there is money there. None of them talk about the private sector because they will not get free US$12,000 plus free benefits.
Lastly, some of us who are trained in morally authoritative settings such as Catholic seminaries don’t go around broadcasting what we do for humanity nor Liberia but the records are there.
For your information also, beside what I have done and continue to do for our country Liberia in the humanitarian and diplomatic arenas, I recently took thousands of dollars to establish a registered political party (of which you became a member and not just member, but an official until you backslide because you wanted me to personally finance your campaign in Bassa, a thing I could not do because it is against my ideals for candidates to give out food and money for political favors) to support serious-minded Liberians for Legislative seats. I could have taken that money and use it for myself. Instead, I tried to give you and others a platform. If that is anything, what else will be?
I mentioned this because some of you make statements asking what others have done. Giving items to buy vote is not a good sign nor good politics. It is equally bad public policy. That is exactly why Liberia is behind.
It is not the role of politicians and lawmakers to give scholarships and build edifices. The role of politicians is to make good laws and enforce sound regulations that enable institutions to work properly, or be established.
When I was in Liberia last July (2016), I gave the Liberian government many proposals to create jobs, improve the criminal justice system etc. I also brought the Liberian judiciary to the US on a retreat (without any cost to the Liberian government) so as to help improve judicial clarity and independence. I also founded and supported many projects activities to help Ebola victims through my Foundation www.newliberiafoundation.org.
Every opportunity I have had over the years, I speak for Liberia in international settings. And for a decade, as a former director of the U.S.-based Jewish International Refugee Resettlement and Immigrants Integration Service, I worked to benefit refugees and asylum seekers around the world, including thousands of Liberians, and I still do that today in my private role. President Sirleaf knows the role I played in making all of us (you and many other Liberians) to have a Liberia where no one has to run away because of government tugs chancing after them, even though people are now running away from the country because of food insecurity, massive unemployment, widespread chronic and organized corruption, and the lack of better healthcare and good roads.
Just yesterday, I was in DC talking with some US officials about the need to extend or make permanent the status of Liberians on TPS. Do you think these TPS Liberians want to live in the United States because they don’t love their country like you do? No. They are afraid of Liberia because you want them to close their eyes to open and organized public theft through unreasonable salaries for lawmakers, a position you are also seeking in October 2017.
I don’t have to trumpet what I do for Liberia and our people because I am not doing so to run for elected office. By the way, the only job I ever wanted as a child and a student was to become a Catholic priest and for that I spent almost a decade studying, or in preparation, but had to abandon that noble vocation, calling to help make Liberia a better land of freedom –the freedom you enjoy today.
Finally, like you, we all love Liberia and want to see the country better. But since the leaders we have are dumb, we must apply certain global peaceful actions that will yield the most effect. We all cannot do what some people do: political humanitarianism, which is doing something for your district in Liberia just because you want political position.
Have a blessed day and may God bless our nation.
About the Author:
Jones Nhinson Williams is a Catholic educated Liberian philosopher and an American trained public policy professional. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org